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Taoiseach must Name the Date for Referendum on Return

27 February, 2008

Sinn Féin Dublin MEP Mary Lou McDonald has today called on Taoiseach Bertie Ahern to name the date for the Lisbon Treaty referendum on his return to Ireland and also called on the Government immediately publish the text of the referendum provisions relating to Ireland's neutrality.

The Dublin MEP said:

"It is ludicrous that we continue to wait for the Taoiseach to set a date for the referendum. Conjecture and speculation as to when it might be held are only adding to the silly season that continues unabated by proponents of the Treaty. The people of Ireland deserve a robust mature factual debate on the content of the Treaty. The government is deliberately frustrating efforts to have such a debate by dragging its heels on naming the date.

"Over the last number of weeks proponents of the Treaty including the Taoiseach, Minister of State for Europe, Fine Gael and Labour have repeatedly rubbished Sinn Féin's position that Irish neutrality will be further undermined by the Lisbon Treaty.

"Now government has finally accepted what we have been outlining in detail to them for some time now and have stated that they intend to include a constitutional provision on neutrality in the referendum text is a vindication of Sinn Féin's position.

"However when presented with the text of the provisions we must ask ourselves will Ireland's neutrality be protected as claimed by government.

"Will the proposed provisions halt the further consolidation of the EUs control over foreign and security policy of member states, will they guarantee that increased amounts of Irish taxpayers' money will not be spent on Irish and EU military capabilities and will they reinforce the EUs relationship with the UN and in turn distance it from NATO?

"It is worth remembering that despite the Triple Lock provision of Nice 2, Irish soldiers can take part in EU military interventions without the sanction of a UN resolution due to a change in legislation last year. Unless the government's proposed provisions specifically reject Articles 27 and 28 of the Treaty, which for example commit Europe to a 'common defense' and obligate member states 'to undertake progressively to improve their military capabilities', then this intervention is at best cosmetic and at worst a cynical effort by government to bury the neutrality debate." CRÍOCH

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